Honest Comparison of LSAT prep Course - Your feedback

LSATNer(d)vous
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Honest Comparison of LSAT prep Course - Your feedback

Postby LSATNer(d)vous » Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:15 am

Okay, folks! I'm new here and I'm a crappy standardized test taker. I took the Princeton Review classrooom course years ago (2004) and I punked out when it came to taking the actual test. (Honestly, I wasn't prepared.) And I dropped $1200 on a course, that I don't think gave me an edge---the edge. I did about 75% of the homework and I received a 143-145 on the diagnostic. My goal was a score in the high 160s.

Anyway, I'm starting this post so as to get a CLEARCUT, DEFINITIVE answer on who's the best of the best when it comes to LSAT prep courses. I have perused all the posts concerning this subject. They are all scattered (in opinion and location). So one has to hunt for various/varying degrees of answers.

Here's what I'd like to pose to you (the experienced Prep Course taker.)

Questions:

1. Which LSAT test prep company, in your humble opinion, is the best for breaking through to the highest scores in the LSAT?

2. How did you come to this opinion? Have you taken any other Prep courses (classroom setting) to compare? Did your friends (who have unbeatable scores) recommend it?

3. Is it worth dropping the money? $1200? $1600? $2000? Could I get the same strategies by using a $60 book I bought at the local name brand bookstore?

Here are the names of companies:

- Kaplan

- Princeton Review

- TestMasters
http://www.testmasters.com/ OR http://www.testmasters180.com/

- Powerscore - http://powerscore.com/

- Test Well - http://www.testwell.com/


What gives with [enter company name here] and ...?
- the price (do you get the bang for your buck?)
- the materials (books they include)
- class size (initimate ratio of instructor:student; one-on-one setting)
- outside class help (time outside of class with an instructor)
- their strategies (Ex: Strong on LR questions; Weak on setting up games section)
- catering the lesson to each type of student (strong scorer v. average scorer) OR Visual learner v. Audio learner (<<< this may be a moot point)
- after doing all the homework, and after all is said and done, did you honestly feel prepared? Did you not do all the assignments, do you think with further exposure you could have reached your goal?
- satisfaction guaranteed (i.e. Free v. paying a small amount to retake the course, % increase in scoring)
- Testimonials (after reading the website, they seem a little pumped up-- can you really take them seriously?)

I know this is a lot to tackle, but I wanted to create one place where people can, "go at it" when it comes to honest opinion on these course. Hopefully, by posting this potential test prep students will be able to truly get a feel, before they dive into the deep end... with their wallets.

And if you've had "real first hand experience," I (we) would appreciate that moreso than a Here/Say answer.

thanks for your feedback!

superfly80
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 12:44 pm

Postby superfly80 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:52 am

I took Kaplan to prepare for the Feb. test. If you do decide to go with Kaplan take their extended version, which lasts for about 3 month. It is only $150 more (on top of the grand the course costs), but includes 15 extra practice sessions. The course itself is designed to teach you basic strategies, to use on the test. If your goal is to score in mid to high 160s, and you are currently doing about 10 points less, this course is ideal for you. If your diagnostic is around 165-170, I would not bother with a Kaplan course. You would find it too basic. The major benefit of the course is that you get to take 6 most recent LSATs in a proctored environment, and every class or practice session you do a timed LSAT section. On a test like the LSAT timing is crucial and you must simulate real test conditions when you practice. If you can motivate yourself to do that at home about 3 times a week and take a full length test in real test simulated conditions at least every two weeks you do not need a kaplan course.

niners49
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Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:58 pm

Postby niners49 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 12:11 pm

Don't know much about Kaplan, but Princeton Review sucks. I wasted my money on them for nothing. Take Testmasters, or you could even try Blueprint. TM is pretty damn good. Even with a sorry teacher, I upped my score 10 points higher than what I got in PR. If you take TM, I strongly recommend the LG/LR bibles to supplement your learning.

One of the best things about TM (Maybe Kaplan has it too) is the online site they have. On the site, there are practice sets for all question types of LR. They also have practice sets for RC and LG. In addition to the 4 diagnostics they give you during the class, the site provides you with 8-10 more real tests for you to practice on. The material on this site alone is worth a few hundred. Just buy a lot of ink cartridges/ laser cartridges: you'll be printing a lot.

bhan87
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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:08 pm

Postby bhan87 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:25 pm

if your going to take testmasters take caution. the site testmasters.com is not the same as testmasters180.com. the one u want is testmasters180.com as they're the company thats been around for 15 years with the famous robin singh. testmasters.com is a company based in houston that was able to secure that domain before robin's company. many kids have been duped into thinking testmasters.com is the same, but in actuality its different and a lot worse.

Hampster
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:13 pm

Postby Hampster » Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:41 pm

Questions:

1. Which LSAT test prep company, in your humble opinion, is the best for breaking through to the highest scores in the LSAT?

In my humble opinion, I think it's PowerScore.

2. How did you come to this opinion? Have you taken any other Prep courses (classroom setting) to compare? Did your friends (who have unbeatable scores) recommend it?

I took TestMasters and also looked at the PowerScore Bibles. The latter was far more comprehensive and as I said in another thread the biggest drawback with TestMasters is that you will have to attend every class and be capable of taking good notes because the techniques are taught almost soley from the lectures.

The course books you receive contain almost no notes. They're filled with LSAT questions.

3. Is it worth dropping the money? $1200? $1600? $2000? Could I get the same strategies by using a $60 book I bought at the local name brand bookstore?

It depends on how motivated you are to study on your own and how far you are from attaining the score that you want. I'm broke right now but I would pay for a course without batting an eyelash because it's an investment on my future and my career. Considering my career goals, it would be highly advantageous for me to get into a highly ranked law school.

Here are the names of companies:

- Kaplan

- Princeton Review

- TestMasters
http://www.testmasters.com/ OR http://www.testmasters180.com/

- Powerscore - http://powerscore.com/

- Test Well - http://www.testwell.com/


What gives with [enter company name here] and ...?
- the price (do you get the bang for your buck?)
- the materials (books they include)
- class size (initimate ratio of instructor:student; one-on-one setting)
- outside class help (time outside of class with an instructor)
- their strategies (Ex: Strong on LR questions; Weak on setting up games section)
- catering the lesson to each type of student (strong scorer v. average scorer) OR Visual learner v. Audio learner (<<< this may be a moot point)
- after doing all the homework, and after all is said and done, did you honestly feel prepared? Did you not do all the assignments, do you think with further exposure you could have reached your goal?
- satisfaction guaranteed (i.e. Free v. paying a small amount to retake the course, % increase in scoring)
- Testimonials (after reading the website, they seem a little pumped up-- can you really take them seriously?)


I don't know the answers to many of the above questions (I think most of them can be found from the test companies' websites), but I'll try to share my thoughts on the little I know.

There were several former Princeton Review students in my classes, and they all agreed that Princeton Review was nowhere as good as TestMasters. But then again, I wouldn't read too much into this because they wouldn't be taking TestMasters if they were satisfied with Princeton Review.

Since TestMasters relies heavily on class lectures, I'm guessing it requires more auditory learning than PowerScore because the latter has the techniques and lecture notes on their books.

I didn't feel prepared when I took the LSAT (I got a 158 on the actual and a 145 on my first diag.), but this is my own fault, not the test company's. There's only so much a test prep company can do for anyone. In the end, it's about how effectively you prepare and how much you're willing to put into it.

Btw, the class sizes will vary depending on where you take your classes. I imagine that major cities like NYC , LA, ansd SF will have bigger classes than say Las Vegas or Oklahoma City.

Hope this helped.

MikeL
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:20 pm

Postby MikeL » Wed Mar 28, 2007 12:45 am

It depends on you... and your instructor. For the most part.

Princeton Review here in Miami has excellent instructors so I've been told, which is not the case for Kaplan here. So I'd say while some courses have a better "forum-wide reputation", it's case by case.

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finger
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Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 6:47 pm

Postby finger » Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:34 am

I took a one month Kaplan course leading up to the Sept. '06 LSAT. It cost $1200 and met 4 times/week. The materials were good - all real LSAT questions and lots of them. The instructor was so-so. The methods could be learned on your own if you have the drive.

I scored a 158 the first time I took a full test at home. My first diagnostic at Kaplan was 154, then I scored 156, 156, 155, and 159 on the others. I ended up with a 158 on the Sept. test. The highpoint of my test was missing only 3 on the apparently "crazy hard" RC. I did not use Kaplan's techniques on this section.

I felt that some of their techniques were counter-intuitive and hampered my progress. If I were to retake, I would self-study by working three sections at a time, over and over and over.

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schadenfreude
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:56 pm

Postby schadenfreude » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:02 pm

Sadly, I live in an area without access to Testmasters or Powerscore. If you have to choose between Kaplan and Princeton Review...what is the best choice?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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M20009
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Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:21 pm

Postby M20009 » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:04 am

Sadly, I live in an area without access to Testmasters or Powerscore. If you have to choose between Kaplan and Princeton Review...what is the best choice?


Move?

I think it's wash between the two.

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M20009
Posts: 259
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:21 pm

Postby M20009 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 3:47 pm

My first Testmasters class is in three days, and so far all my interaction with their representatives has been negative. I am seriously regreting plunking down 1250 for the course. If I get the materials in time for the first class, and the class is turns out to be great, I will amend this post. So far, I have been disappointed with Testmasters' customer service and its unflexibility. To be succinct, they're pricks.

Hopefully the instructors rock and my score goes up by leaps and bounds.

LSATNer(d)vous
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:44 am

So I'm back...!

Postby LSATNer(d)vous » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:13 pm

I'm going to be taking the TESTWELL course in NYC. I've had several phone conversations (10 mins at a time) with the instructor (Shawn), who is an JD/MBA student (in his last year).

I, too, would like to get a JD/MBA dual degree, so this is why I'm most interested in taking TESTWELL's courses.

He mentions that they just opened up the NYC office last year (2006) and have had all their classes fill up almost immediately during that time period. (Class size max = 12 warm bodies).

I'm a big fan of feedback and small class sizes. I get nervous when I study on my own and I can get a question answered immediately. So considering my personality and study habits, I don't think I would do well with JUST a book. I need the one-on-one interaction. And hence, I chose TESTWELL.

I'm looking forward to the gruelling work, weirdly enough. He mentions that I should enjoy the next 3 weeks of freedom, because it's all uphill from here.

(TESTWELL is raising their prices after May 1st, 2007, so I'm saving a bit there as well.)

Glad to see that there's a West-coast equivalent of TESTWELL, called BLUEPRINT PREP. I think if I were in LA/Westwood, I would shoot for them.

They even have a MySpace page:
http://www.myspace.com/blueprintprep

Good luck, all! I've made my choice and I thank you for your input. I'm going to try and remember to post back and give you updates.

best
LSATner(d)vous

LSATNer(d)vous
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:44 am

Testwell NYC - course outlook

Postby LSATNer(d)vous » Tue May 15, 2007 5:23 pm

So the course begins tonight. It's a 5 hour class (yikes), which lasts 7 weeks. We already took a modified PreTest (diagnostic). [Modified meaning, only the 4 sections--no mystery section.] The instructor also asked us not to frantically guess at the end when we run out of time because it would skew the data. They want to know how we attack the test (purely) and use that data for later analysis.

After taking the PreTest, we (the students) are asked to type in the results in/onto their website and print out a detailed analysis, with charts/graphs/figures. It's highly, highly comprehensive...listing the many types and subtypes of questions--much like Powerscore, just different terminology.

I'll let you know how class goes.

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Waterman47
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Postby Waterman47 » Tue May 15, 2007 7:53 pm

The first time I tried to take the LSAT, I was so unfamiliar with the concepts necessary to complete the games section and logical reasoning in particular that I didn't even bother to finish. I'm pretty sure I would have been somewhere in the 130's-140's.

After comprehensively working through both PowerScore bibles, I'm averaging about a 171 on the last 4 preptests I've taken under testday conditions.

I can't diss the classes because I have no experience with them as they were never financially feasible for me, so I never considered them, but in my case, I don't think they would have helped at all, and may have even slowed me down.

To me, it's all about level of dedication. If you need to be in a classroom environment with other LSAT takers to study, then yeah, take the class. But if you can dedicate yourself to studying like a madman for a couple months, I think you stand to gain more from self study than from classes.

pilisopa
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Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 1:28 pm

Postby pilisopa » Wed May 16, 2007 1:24 am

For people who have not yet decided:

I took Testmasters in L.A. My instructor was, seriously, a very intelligent guy. Arrogant, no doubt, but intelligent. He had the answer for every single question one would pose. Conversely, I missed a couple classes and had to audit those of another instructor. This girl was a joke. The first time I sat in there, I was asking her all types of questions and she was stumbling over her words, not know what the hell she was talking about. She flatly refused to answer one of my questions about a logical discrepancy that I had noticed! I felt horrible for the people who were taking that class because I doubt they were getting much out of it.

THAT BEING SAID...

I do not think I got too much out of the class. Granted, I was going to school full time and working two jobs and these didn't help me focus my time efficiently or well. Nonetheless, I feel that Testmasters classes are way too big, the student-instructor relationship is quite impersonal and dependent upon the willingness of the instructor to allow interaction with the students before or after class.

As someone mentioned, there is a great emphasis on auditory retention. This may not work well for those of you who don't understand concepts quickly just because you heard them described. Also, the breakneck pace at which the class moves makes it difficult to keep up with all these new concepts that are being taught. AGAIN, if you have the time to dedicate to many hours of review per week, I'm sure you can do it.

SO...

I got the PowerScore books. Let me tell you that it is a very difficult thing to force yourself to sit down for hours and pore over a book, take notes, practice, be let down, and do it over and over again when you don't have your cash riding on it. Nevertheless, if you think you're capable of doing this, then I would suggest buying all the PowerScore books, all the TestPreps and setting aside at least 3 months and going through all of them methodically. It can be done.

FINALLY...

I heard that Blueprint (in L.A./Westwood) is actually very, very good. I hear rave reviews and almost everyone who I spoke to while at UCLA took either TM or Blueprint - with Blueprint being a newcomer but with great feedback.

Your choice for the smaller classes, ultimately, was a good one. Just remember, practice is definitely the most important part.

LSATNer(d)vous
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:44 am

TestWell - solid...solid...solid... prepatory course...!

Postby LSATNer(d)vous » Sat May 26, 2007 10:35 am

Okay, so I'm 2 weeks into the TestWell Course: http://testwellnyc.com

I can't say enough about the training. I took Princeton Review, 3 years ago in preparation for the LSAT and reneged on taking the real LSAT because I knew instinctively, even after taking Princeton Review that I wasn't prepared.

Anyway, within the first class (5 hours) of Testwell, I've learned more than in ALL the time I spent sitting in the Princeton Review course.

There is a ridiculous amount of information to learn in this course, and it doesn't just deal with the test itself, but how law schools "see you" as a prospective student. Plus, they offer not one, but several formulas with which to attack test questions, meant to be inclusive of all learning styles.

I don't know about ya'll, but I am a formula based test taker. If I can use a few formulas to assess the answer to a question rather than just systematic guesswork, I'm golden. And that's what you receive with Testwell.

The LSAT doesn't test smarts, as we all know, and the preparation I'm receiving from TW is amazing!

The difference you get taking this course versus buying a book (Powerscore Bibles, etc.) is the "insider info" that could make or break you as a student for your Top school.

Testwell even has a minimum testscore that you should hit based off of your Verbal SAT score. For ex: I received a 640 in my verbal SAT. Based off of the Testwell regime, I should get a minimum 166 on my LSAT. And I scored a 137 on my Diagnostic PreTest. But even still, I'm confident I'll reach that minimum.

These guys are serious! And if you think you can't afford it, I suggest calling them and asking about their equivalent of a "financial aid" program. You may fit into it!

I'm soooo happy with my choosing TestWell. I, in no way, am affiliated with TestWell. (Trust me! I'm paying through the nose for the course!) I just wanted to give my opinion and perhaps help other students who are willing to work hard for their score and desire a definite path with ample returns!




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